After two days of qualifying at four Philadelphia clubs, action moved to Drexel University as the main draw got under way with the top half of the Men’s and Women’s draws, eight matches each on the ASB all-glass court and the Kline & Specter Drexel Court.
The day started with two of the most dramatic matches as young Egyptian Salma Hany beat in-form seventh seed Sarah-Jane Perry in four games, while Frenchman Gregoire Marche came from two games down to oust Aussie Ryan Cuskelly in a brutal five-setter.
The biggest upset came as Mexico’s Cesar Salazar beat fourth-seeded James Willstrop in five games, but there was plenty of English success as former champions Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro advanced comfortably enough, joined by Emily Whitlock — saving four match balls to beat Jenny Duncalf in five – Victoria Lust and Daryl Selby.
At the top of the draws Egypt’s defending men’s champion Mohamed Elshorbagy and women’s top seed Nour El Sherbini advanced comfortably enough, with Nour El Tayeb, Tarek Momen and Mohamed Abouelghar taking Egypt’s winning tally to five.
Read on for results and Reports …
Salma Hany Ibrahim (Egy) 3-1  Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 11-7, 11-3, 12-14, 11-6 (55m)
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 Mariam Metwally (Egy) 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 (24m)
 Annie Au (Hkg) 3-0 Joey Chan (Hkg) 11-3, 14-12, 11-9 (36m)
 Victoria Lust (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 19-17, 11-4, 11-7 (44m)
 Nicol David (Mas)3-1 Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5 (40m)
 Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) 11-7, 11-1, 11-1 (25m)
 Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 Millie Tomlinson (Eng) 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 (32m)
 Emily Whitlock (Eng) 3-2 [Q] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 8-11, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 (58m)
Men’s Round One:
Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-2 Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (86m)
 Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Adrian Waller (Eng) 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 (33m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-1 [Q] Arturo Salazar (Mex) 11-4, 11-1, 11-13, 11-4 (46m)
Cesar Salazar (Mex) 3-2  James Willstrop (Eng) 5-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9 (82m)
Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-0 [Q] Greg Lobban (Sco) 11-9, 11-8, 12-10 (46m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (42m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 11-6, 13-15, 11-4, 11-3 (52m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (44m)
Day Three at Drexel started with a massive upset as Salma Hany beat seventh-seeded Englishwoman Sarah-Jane Perry, who only last week captured the biggest title of her career in San Francisco.
The Egyptian started strongly, quickly establishing leads in the first three games, converting the first two. Perry recovered from 2-6 in the third to earn game ball, but then had to save a match ball before reducing the deficit 14-12. It was the young Egyptian on top again in the fourth though, taking the win as Perry made one last scramble to reach a dying dropshot.
“I’m very happy with the performance today,” said Salma. “SJ has been playing really well and she’s got such good shots that I had to keep the ball tight as much as I could so I didn’t give her many opportunities.
“This is actually my first good win on a glass court! “When I got a match ball in the third I was scared, but then when I went 10-6 in the fourth, I just told myself to go for it and be fearless, and I did.”
The second match on the glass court was an all-Egyptian matchup between two long-time rivals, Nour El Sherbini and Mariam Metwally. Top seed and two-time U.S. Open fionalist Sherbini went into the match with a big head to head advantage, but it was Metwally who took the early lead.
It wasn’t until 9-all that Sherbini caught up, but from then on the world #1 was in charge, running out the three-nil winner in under half an hour.
“Mariam is a very good player, we play in the same club and live in the same city, so it’s hard to play someone you train with all the time.
“The first game was important – first game of the first match, you need it to get yourself in the tournament and in the right mood. Happy with the way I finished the match, and looking forward to my next round.”
Having been last on court for the qualifying finals, and getting through courtesy of a tough five-setter, qualifer Adrian Waller’s match against Tarek Momen was rescheduled to give the big Englishman the required minimum rest between matches.
He could have done with more than a 45-minute extension though, as became evident when the Egyptian raced into a 9-0 lead in the first. Waller recovered well, making the first, and the second, close, but in the third Momen was in control as he advanced to the second round.
“Adrian was a tough opponent,” said Momen. he is good with his racquet, and in the middle of the court, if you play a loose shot, he punishes you right away.
“Very happy to get through in three games, obviously he had a tough one last night, he didn’t get enough time to recover today, so I knew that was going to turn to my advantage.”
First round matches on Drexel’s court 1 got off to a flying start with Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly and France’s Gregoire Marche.
A grueling opening game saw Cuskelly take the early advantage 11-8 after twenty-one minutes.
With some acrobatic displays, the Frenchman fought back to force a fifth game, and from 9-7 down in the fifth to win 11-9 after eighty-seven minutes.
“I just didn’t want to give up,” Marche said. “I had to try something new and this time it paid off. Ryan was in his comfort zone and I was trying to make him run. But I knew I had to push and didn’t want to give up.”
In last year’s first round Cesar Salazar held match ball against Mohamed Elshorbagy – who not only saved it, but went on to win the tournament !
So James Willstrop must have known he was in for a tough battle, although the Englishman was well enough in control as he took the first game 11-5. Salazar came out firing in the second though, and stayed ahead as he levelled the match.
The Mexican continued to press in the third, but Willstrop recovered to regain the lead on extra points.
With his twin brother Arturo now watching, after losing out to Datryl Selby on the downstairs court, Salazar continued press, forcing Willstrop into some unlikely errors as he again levelled the match and took a 7-4 lead in the decider.
Willstrop rallied, as he does, but Cesar made his way to two match balls at 10-8, delightedly taking the second of them to banish the memories of last year’s agonising shortfall.
“I worked really hard in pre-season and this is a good start for me. To beat a really to player like james you have to play your very best and some more so I’m really happy withy performance. It’s always hard to play him because he has so much experience.
“I tried to play intelligent, be very focused and hit the four corners, and it worked. I think moved well and played aggressive squash – it’s a great result and I hope to be ready for the next match.”
Three-time U.S. Open Champion Nicol David won through to the second round with solid win over Aussie leftie Donna Urquhart.
The Malaysia led the first, but Urquhart battled back before an error in front of an open court put David at 9-8 instead of Donna. David capitalised to take the game and controlled the second to double her lead.
A good start in the third saw Urquhart reduce the deficit, but the full comeback was thwarted as David romped through the fourth for a 40-minute win.
“I ‘m pleased to get through,” said David, “I feel I was playing well in the first two games but then Donna relaxed and found her range and I was maybe a little short. I had to dig deep to play a good game in the end to come through.
“This title is one of the most prestigious of them all – the U.S. Open was the first big event to offer equal prize money for the ladies, so I’m always really pleased to play this one!”
Nour El Tayeb’s 2017 U.S. Open campaign is off to a strong start following a decisive three-game victory against fellow Egyptian Kanzy El Defrawy.
El Tayeb, who injured her shoulder on her way to the 2015 final, says her confidence has returned following a brief layoff from the tour.
“Ever since my surgery I’ve been struggling a bit with my mindset, but now I think I’m back on track,” El Tayeb said. “I’m enjoying playing squash. I want to play. I want to win. So today’s performance gave me a lot of confidence for the next round.”
The world No. 14 will face another familiar opponent in the second round, Salma Hany .
“Kanzy is not just another Egyptian, we play for the same club back home,” El Tayeb said. “We’re teammates, so it’s not really nice playing her. She knows my game very well so it wasn’t easy. Salma and I also play often in practice, so it’s going to be a very interesting and hopefully fun match.”
Appearing in his twelfth – and last – U.S. Open, former champion Nick Matthew looked solid as he beat dangerous Egyptian Zahed Mohamed in three games.
Although Zahed never let Matthew pull far ahead, he was never able to trouble the scorebard as Matthew too an 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 win.
“It shows how tough the sport is and it showed me how hard I need to work. My focus today was to try and close the door on him when I was ahead because these young guys are so good nowadays – they’re a little bit faster than me so I have to be clever.
“I’m enjoying the challenge and I can enjoy a couple of days now before I’m back on court on Monday. I’m enjoying my game and I just want to do myself justice in these next matches.”
Defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy faced, on paper, a more difficult first round match than last year, when he barely survived against Cesar Salazar (ask James Willstrop how dangerous the Mexican is).
No such troubles for Shobagy today though, as he always seemed to have the slight edge over Cameron Pilley, on court and on the scoreboard, closing out the last match of the day in straight games.
The Egyptian now faces compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in round two on Monday.
“Cameron is my nightmare player,” said El Shorbagy.
“He has beaten me a few times and we have played so many times. He has just become a dad so I want to congratulate him and Line. It must have been really hard for him to come here and perform the way he did and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.
“I stayed at the top of the rankings for two years plus and it’s like I’ve been in a bubble with that pressure and when I got out of it it freed my mind and made me think of what I needed to do and the changes I needed to make.
Elshorbagy now faces compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in round two on Monday.